Want to work in the broadcast industry?

Cornerhouse Digital Reporter Bex Brophy headed to MediaCity to find out how to get ahead in the broadcast industry…

Over recent years, I have watched with anticipation as the area surrounding Salford Quays has been transformed from an industrial wasteland into the vibrant hub of activity we now know as MediaCityUK. Along with many other young locals hoping to pursue a career in the creative industries, it is with no surprise that I find myself growing increasingly excited with each new media organisation that arrives in Salford. From major broadcasters to independent production companies, it seems that the opportunities for emerging production talent are pouring in, yet I still find myself wondering “how do I actually get my foot in the door?”

It is a well known fact that building yourself a career in the media and broadcast industries won’t be easy. The competition is tough and sometimes it can seem ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’ is the only way of securing employment. With that in mind, you can imagine how pleased I was to have the opportunity to go and find out just what it takes to get ahead in the business – from industry insiders no less!

Guest speakers included:

  • Paul Sapin – an exceptionally talented independent film-maker & producer who has worked consistently for BBC, C4 & ITV over the last 20 years.
  • Mike Lewis – the executive producer of The One Show for BBC, previously working as the editor of Tonight With Trevor McDonald for ITV.
  • Anthea Nelson – a production designer having worked with directors such as Shane Meadows & Chris Morris to name but a few.
  • Clare Judge – MA Documentary Production graduate from the University of Salford, she started her career as a researcher at Nine Lives Media & is currently working on documentaries.
  • Fran Baker –  has spent 15 years self shooting & directing crews across the UK & the world. She has primetime credits on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, ITV 1 & Channel 5.

As part of a series of trailblazer events by Exposures UK , the panel of experienced producers and programme makers gathered at The University of Salford’s new hi-tech site to talk about working in production today. Debating numerous topics, ranging from work experience to creating a stand-out CV, the stellar line-up detailed how they got ahead in the industry, what they now look for in new starters, and what you need to do to secure that all important first job.

Here are some useful job search and work experience tips I picked up on the night:

  • Be proactive – You must look for the work, it will not look for you. Call people up, ask for meetings, ask for work experience. You may think everybody else is doing it, but they aren’t. Employees like somebody who shows initiative and determination.
  • Be specific – You must know exactly what you want to do. You can’t simply say, “I want to work in television.” You need to be a student of the genre you love and figure out who makes the programmes that move and inspire you. Study those people and approach them. Instead of sending 100 CV’s to several companies, send a few to the people you really want to work for. Make sure you have an interest in the people you are approaching, flattery can be a great approach.
  • Keep it simple – Your CV should be one page. It must be simple and have your best work at the top, do not bother with chronological order because people do not have time to read pages and pages of a CV. You need to grab the reader straight away. When applying for jobs in the creative industries, it is also a great idea to have a showreel and website you can send to potential employers.
  • Stand out and distinguish yourself – When it comes to looking for a new employee, a producer will always offer the job to the person who makes their life easier. It does not matter how clever you are or how many qualifications you have, instead you must stand out as the person who is enthusiastic, helpful, passionate and committed. Doing work experience is a great way to show you are serious about your career. The industry is a small place and so the people who do a good job, and a good job for free, will get noticed and talked about.
  • Stay positive and persevere – When starting out in the industry, it can be tough. The days are long, the work is often unpaid and you won’t be doing your dream job straight away. You need to stay focussed and remember that whatever you are doing, you can learn from it and learn from watching others around you. The most important thing is that you engage with what you are doing and shine. Even if you hate the task you’ve been given, pretend you like it or at least be willing to show initiative and offer constructive feedback. If you keep working hard, you will succeed eventually. The industry is always looking to take on new talent to bring fresh ideas and new approaches – don’t forget that!